Herkimer County’s only hospital is launching a $12.3 million renovation and expansion to rev up its services in response to a double-digit increase in outpatient volumes over the past four years.
The project at Little Falls Hospital includes the creation of a new Bassett Heart Care Institute, to be operated by the Bassett Healthcare Network, which will bring full-time cardiologists and testing to Little Falls, cutting down on travel for patients. Other focuses include surgery, radiology and rehabilitation services.
“We’re doing this so we can continue to take care of the needs of the patients in this area,” President and CEO Michael Ogden said. “It’s really geared to and reflects the business that we provide today, the services we provide today.”
The hospital is made up of three wings, which were built in 1938, 1962 and 1974, and are designed just for inpatient services.
But 70 percent of the hospital’s patients are now outpatients who aren’t admitted and don’t require an overnight stay, he said. Patient satisfaction surveys show that patients feel good about the quality of their care and the compassion of the staff, Ogden said.
“But what they generally have dissatisfaction with are our waiting areas and our amenities and their ability to find their way through the hospital,” he said.
The renovation project, which is one of the largest in recent years at an area hospital, will address those concerns by consolidating services and updating amenities.
The growing emphasis on outpatient services taking place at Little Falls is typical.
“That’s a shift that’s occurring nationwide,” said William van Slyke, spokesman for the Healthcare Association of New York State. “More and more services are delivered outpatient. And there are fewer inpatient stays. And the demand for inpatient beds across the state and the nation is diminishing.”
The trend is driven by a changing reimbursement system that favors outpatient care and abetted by new technology and surgical techniques, he added.
But Ogden pledged that the hospital’s 25-bed inpatient unit will stick around, too.
“There’s going to be a continual need for inpatient care in this hospital and in this community.”
Some abatement work began this week and demolition work should begin in the next three or four weeks, he said. The entire project will take about 18 months.
The heart care institute, radiology department and a new ER entrance for ambulances should be finished this year, Ogden said.
The project is being funded through a state Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers (better known as HEAL NY) grant and a grant from the Kirby Foundation, as well as various bequests and other gifts.
The hospital has put nearly $8 million into improvements since 2006, when it became an affiliate of Bassett.
Page 2 of 2 - Those improvements included an emergency department expansion, a new dialysis center, a new adult day care center and renovations to the 25-bed inpatient unit. The dialysis center is operated by Bassett and the day care center by affiliate Valley Health Services.